How to Turn Your Old Bicycle into a Connected E-bike?


If you dream about an e-bike, but like your old traditional bicycle, there is a way not only to keep it, but also make it evolve.

Easy E-Biking - converted connected e-bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

With clever e-bike conversion kits (see my other post), your traditional bike can be easily turned into a high-performance power-assisted bike connected to your smartphone.

To take an example of the proliferation of e-bikes, the French e-bike market grew 90% increase in 2017. In Europe, e-bikes now account for 40% of total bicycle sales.

For more than a year now, the number of e-bike manufacturers has exploded to satisfy each and every customer demand and to propose a model adapted to all possible tastes and uses.

Even the traditional manufacturers of scooters, motorcycles or cars (Peugeot, BMW, General Motors or Lamborghini) and equipment manufacturers, such as Michelin have started to propose their own models of e-bikes. I write about the newly release hybrid model from Michelin in another post.

Today, anyone can buy a new e-bike for a budget that starts around 1000 euros. An e-bike can also be rented via various sharing services (see examples of Paris and Lyon to take just two of them from my other posts).

E-bike conversion kits

Is it necessary then to sell your old bike for pennies via an internet auction of a classifieds site? Not at all. It is possible to turn it into a real electric bike without much effort. This newly made e-bike will be able to reach 25 km / h even with the most basic setup.

There are conversion kits that can allow exceeding 80 km / h. Before ordering those, it makes good sense to pay attention to the legislation (read more in my post), to necessary insurance coverage (there is a post on this too) in order to be prepared in case of an accident or a fall.

The general rule is that for an electric bike not to be considered a moped or a motorcycle, its power should not exceed 250 Watts and motor’s power assistance must automatically cut at 25 km / h and activate only when one pedals the bike.

It takes five minutes to install a motorized wheel

The simplest for these e-bike transformations is to replace one of the wheels with a new wheel, equipped with a motor and a battery. This operation can be done by anyone, as it requires no special skills and only takes a few minutes.

Rool’in (link to company website) is one of the pioneers of this concept. Since 2015, this French startup has been offering electric bikes. It also sells motorized wheels of all sizes that fit all types of bicycles. These wheels are made to protect the engine and the battery. They are designed to support loads of up to 120 kg. The provided battery recharges in 4 hours via a standard electrical outlet and will provide power for a range of 50 to 60 km.

The wheel is also connected to communicate via Bluetooth with a smartphone to track speed and mileage. The wheel is also equipped with a disc brake. Such motorized wheel would cost around 400 euros for a 26-inch wheel and 800 euros for a 28-inch wheel. The tire is included with the wheel.

Just as simple to install, but a bit more elegant, the VeloKit kit offered at around 900 euros. The VeloKit consists of a 5-speed wheel (without a tire), a battery and a leather bag to store it, hang it on the frame and take it with you if necessary.

Easy E-Biking - Turn Your Old Bicycle into a Connected E-bike, VeloKit

Your old bike will retain its timeless style and connect to a Bluetooth smartphone to select the level of assistance among five modes.

Put a motor where pedals are

Another solution is to install a motor directly in the pedal block of the bike. Kits that incorporate all the necessary elements are sold online from 500 euros for a city bike. I cover how to select the right e-bike for urban trips in this post.

One of the most popular brands is Bafang, which equips, among others, the Maserati electric bike. Bafang offers models for city bikes, cross-country, mountain biking or racing bikes. Some are connected and compatible with Android or iOS smartphones. Many online stores offer these kits.

This time, the installation procedure is more technical. There are multiple YouTube videos that show the installation process. Here is one that I found the most appropriate:

Finally, the battery needs to find its place either on the luggage rack (front or rear) or on the frame, or in a case under the seat. This choice depends on the use and the distances to be covered.

With more tuned installations, the converted e-bike will become as efficient as a native electric bicycle. The engine is activated by pedaling, stops if you do not pedal anymore and cuts off by activating the brakes.

Several riding modes of driving are available. These include a pedestrian mode to circulate at low speed without pedaling or to advance at full speed without pedaling, and to vary the gears according to the road (ascent, descent, plane). More details on using e-bike gears in this post.

This post was translated from French. The original version was published on BFM TV. Photo credit – public domain.

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